Fact Checking Warnings about Apple’s “NameDrop” Feature

I appeared on my local Fox affiliate today after a number of law enforcement agencies expressed concern about Apple’s new NameDrop feature.

NameDrop allows two iPhones in close proximity to share contact information. Here’s what most of the Facebook posts I’m seeing today leave out about how the feature works:

1. Both phones need to be unlocked. Your phone won’t transmit your contact info when locked.

2. In order to transmit contact information you need to push a button on your phone to send contact information to the other phone.

3. This only works when the phones are in close proximity, pretty much touching each other.

For users concerned about their phone leaking information I suggest spending some time in the “Privacy and Security” settings to see which apps have access to your private information, location data and more.

8bitDo Controllers Now Officially Apple Compatible

8BitDo controllers are now officially supported by Apple devices, including iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV. I tested them on all three platforms in my latest video.

This compatibility eliminates the need for complicated workarounds to pair these controllers with iOS devices. Compatible controllers include the SN30 Pro, SN30 Pro Plus, Pro 2, the 8BitDo Ultimate Controller, and Light SE. 8bitdo has a compatibility page here for more information. Users may need to update their controller’s firmware first – even if they just purchased it recently.

The controllers can be connected via USB-C on iPads with a USB-C port, but iPhones or iPads with a Lightning connector must use Bluetooth connections. I found that they work just like Xbox and Playstation controllers once connected.

The 8-Bitdo controllers can be used with various games, including those on Apple Arcade, as well as game streaming services like Xbox Cloud Gaming. Users can remap controls and set up different profiles for their controllers using iOS settings or the 8-Bitdo Ultimate app, which allows for further customization on their more premium controllers like the Ultimate and Pro 2 controllers.

This new feature closes a big compatibility gap these controllers had since the beginning. Now if only we can get them working with Xbox and PS4/5 Consoles next!

I ordered an M2 Macbook Air

The M1 Macbook Air largely ushered in the ARM Mac transition and pushed the PC industry in a new direction. In my review of it I was blown away by its performance and power efficiency.

It was so good I retired the 2016 Macbook Pro I was using for my daily driver (including channel video edits) and handed it over to Producer Jake as he was still using my decade old prior Macbook Pro Retina for his work.

The Air worked great for 4k and 1080p video edits along with everything else I was doing for my day-to-day work. Even after I bought the 14″ Macbook Pro I still used the Air quite a bit as I left the Pro mostly docked in my studio office. And then my wife took the Air when her 2016 Macbook Pro 13 died.

So today I ordered the new M2 Air (affiliate link) to fill that secondary role. I much prefer to travel with a less expensive laptop so this will also fill that role. I ordered the “midnight” color which reminds me of the original Intel Macbook I owned back in 2007. I can’t wait to see what it looks like in person.

We’ll have a livestream and review coming up on it as soon as it arrives!

New Video : Your Next Smartphone Might Use Satellites vs. Cellular Networks for Messaging

This week’s Weekly Wrapup Video was inspired by a Robert X. Cringley post about a rumored secret deal between Apple and satellite operator Globalstar. From the post:

Apple will shortly enter the satellite business by acquiring GlobalStar and its 24 satellites. They will use those 24, plus 24 more satellites that Apple has already commissioned, to offer satellite service for iMessage and Apple’s Find My network just like they implied in their denial last year.

The link in Cringley’s post goes to this Space News Article about a recent infusion of cash that Globalstar is set to receive from a top secret potential customer.

The operator said Feb. 24 it picked MDA and Rocket Lab to supply a set of 17 satellites to replenish its constellation after a “potential customer” agreed to fund most of the $327 million project. The agreement includes an option for up to nine additional satellites at $11.4 million each

The potential network will only run at about 10 megabits per second per satellite so it won’t be able to transfer large items like videos or high resolution imagery, but it is enough to provide service even in the most remote locations. In fact this type of messaging is very popular in the amateur radio world, with protocols like APRS transmitting location data in very small bursts at a much slower rate 1200 bits per second.

Would it work indoors? Who knows. But developments in weak signal technologies lead me to think that it will be able to send small bits of data anywhere in the world with an off-the-shelf consumer smartphone.

Like many other tech leaps the confluence of a bunch of technological developments are coming together here: cheaper launches to space, microprocessor advancements and smaller and cheaper satellites.

New Video: Removing the Ticking Time Bomb from my Apple IIgs

In today’s video we’ll be taking apart my Apple IIgs and doing a little preventative maintenance. A video LGR posted on his channel this morning of his Apple II collection reminded me that I had to snip out a ticking time bomb inside my machine.

Many old computers have batteries that power volatile RAM for keeping time, saving system settings, etc. Over time those batteries tend to explode and leak their contents which often results in damage to the computer’s motherboard.

I was afraid of what I might find in my Apple IIgs when I cracked it open today. Thankfully my battery was a newer version that was more robust than some of the earlier IIgs batteries. But I snipped it out anyhow for good measure. My system won’t retain any settings until I come up with a replacement strategy but it is no longer at risk.

My IIgs is currently out of operation because of another widespread issue – exploding RIFA capacitors! Mine blew out when I was recording a video about my IIgs back in 2016. One of these days I’ll get it repaired and make another video about this beloved classic computer.

RIP iPod!

The iPod has been officially discontinued just a few months shy of its 21st birthday. The iPod, much like the iPad, was something that you really couldn’t appreciate unless you tried it. After that you had to have one.

The success of the iPod is most certainly thanks to Apple retail stores that started opening around the time the iPod was introduced. In the early days iPods only worked with Firewire equipped Macs – so they likely sold a lot of Macs around that time too.

The last iPod is the 7th Generation iPod Touch that I reviewed back when it was released in 2019. You can watch the review here.